Chapter 4: A Night Investigation
Translator: MintCatnip Editor: Chrissy
Xiang Wan was often described as a woman without a story by Fang Yuanyuan.
Zero experience in dating, simple life experiences, and lived her life in a haze.
Xiang Wan did not agree with her cousin for she had her own online world.
Turning on the computer, writing stories that she like, and interacting with readers had become an indispensable part of her life.
Everyone had their own definition of happiness.
For Xiang Wan, chatting with readers was much more interesting than having a boyfriend.
The “one day trip to the Criminal Investigation Unit” had dealt a blow to her emotionally. When she sat cross-legged on her bed with her laptop and clicked on the review and comments section of her novel “Murder The Dream Guy”, she actually had a notion that her life had been turned topsy-turvy.
Usually, there were hardly any reviews, but there were many new reviews that day as well as new faces.
Those that came to read her book because of the case brought about a surge in popularity. Compared to a not-so significant growth in the subscription index, the comments section was where all the hype was.
Some people were amazed by the bizarre similarity between the death of Zhao Jiahang and the novel, and they were speculating about who the murderer was!
Someone ridiculed that the author was a genius writer who had the ability to foresee criminal cases, and the police should employ her as a professional consultant.
Those who enjoyed mystery fiction were making inferences.
Those who loved gossip were discussing the extramarital affair she made up in her novel.
Those who preferred supernatural fiction were making up ghost stories for fun.
Science fiction fanatics were wondering if Xiang Wan had been abducted and brainwashed by aliens…
There were even readers who were sinister enough to suggest that the author might jolly well be the murderer and that she was the real lover of the dead tycoon, Zhao Jiahang!
Xiang Wan could not continue reading the comments.
She closed the review and comments section, and logged on to QQ. Immediately, the penguin mascot of QQ beeped to indicate there were new notifications.
So many people messaged her today!
They were basically fellow authors whom she knew quite well, as well as readers who were rather close to her; they looked for her to find out what happened.
Xiang Wan was warned by the police not to reveal anything related to the case. She replied to them casually before proceeding to enter her reader chat group.
The moment she entered, she was instantly “besieged” by her readers, who were bombarding her with a full “360 degrees” interrogation…
“How would I know? I’m totally confused as well!”
She did not want to come under public opinion lest it sparked off a controversy. The case itself seemed complicated and mysterious. More importantly, the murderer was still at large, and she did not want to cause trouble for herself.
However, the young ladies in her chat group were so fired-up over the similarity between the police case and her novel that they kept inquiring about the subsequent plot development.
Xiang Wan did not have a lot of really loyal and devoted readers. Most of them were females, and there were a few who supported her fervently as if they were her sisters.
But there was a possibility that one of them might be the murderer…
Xiang Wan tensed up as she tried to find anyone who might seem suspicious in her chat group. Nonetheless, her readers were no different from usual. They were laughing, teasing, scolding, and arguing with each other, seemingly unaffected by anything. Nothing felt off.
Is this really just a coincidence?
When Bai Muchuan called, Xiang Wan was leaning on her computer desk sorting out her digital manuscript.
Upon hearing his low-pitched voice, she felt all her hair stand on end out of reflex as she tightened her grip on the phone.
“Detective Bai, is anything the matter?”
“Send your subsequent plot development to me.”
This request was reasonable but Xiang Wan felt helpless about it. “Didn’t the police take everything on my mobile phone today? That’s all I have…”
She paused abruptly. Looking back at the computer screen, where her readers were still engaged in a heated conversation, she suddenly recalled something.
“No! I’ve sent out two different versions of detailed plot outlines!”
There was a short pause before Bai Muchuan replied, “What do you mean?”
Xiang Wan sat upright. Like a master of deductive reasoning who was suddenly baptized by the light of wisdom, she clenched her fists tightly till her palms felt moist.
“The chapter I posted online at midnight is actually my second version, modified from my first. In my first version, I designed the murderer as a woman with a penchant for abusing cats. On the second day of the murder, she threw three cats which were tortured to death by the trash bin outside the home of the tycoon and burned them. Some readers found it too disturbing and felt nauseous, so I… ahem!”
She stopped talking as she feared that she might be regarded as a psychopath for writing such an appalling plot.
“Detective Bai, are you still listening?”
“Continue!” Bai Muchuan’s voice sounded normal as usual.
Xiang Wan was unable to ascertain his emotions. The urge to want to quickly solve the crime made her language ability degenerate rapidly. Hence, she could not put forth her thoughts clearly.
She looked at the time on her laptop screen nervously. “The burning of the dead cats in my plot took place the night after the crime, which happens to be tonight…” Xiang Wan furrowed her eyebrows. “If the murderer is really replicating my story to commit crimes, we can go check it out now, and we might be able to…”
“Come downstairs in five minutes time,” interrupted Bai Muchuan.
Xiang Wan had written many cases before, but it was the first time she came into contact with a criminal case in reality.
In five minutes time, she washed her face, changed her clothes, checked herself in the mirror, and applied a light colored lipstick.
Her last action was considered “out of the norm”. She told herself she did that to preserve the dignity of a novelist. She did not want to go out with an ashen face and colorless lips that suggested she was frightened by what happened.
Bai Muchuan’s police car was parked just below the building of her tiny apartment.
An air of gravity and solemnity pervaded the surrounding area from where he stood——same as his expression where one would feel fear and wonder at the same time.
A few meddlesome neighbors popped out their heads for a look then drew back.
Xiang Wan walked over. She was puzzled that he could arrive here within such a short period of time. “You’re in the vicinity?”
Bai Muchuan did not say anything but opened the door for her like a gentleman.
The narrow alley was still the same as when she came back earlier, with several dim lights lined up in fixed intervals amidst the darkness. As Detective Bai was with her, she did not experience the tingling feelings of anxiety which felt as though a feather was tickling her heart and clawing up her throat.
“Detective Bai, are there any new developments? Any new clues?”
Her greetings in the form of questions were in fact inappropriate.
But as the case was linked to her in a way, her brain cells were so active that those words just spewed out unconsciously.
Bai Muchuan was looking straight ahead. “No.”
His cold, curt reply snubbed out Xiang Wan’s curiosity.
The car sprinted smoothly on the road to Jin City.
She kept her mouth shut in embarrassment, occasionally sneaking a few glances from the corner of her eye at Bai Muchuan’s chiseled side profile. Her occupational habit got activated on this short journey——her unique “Character Study by Xiang”.
She had been assisting the police all day at the Criminal Investigation Unit. She even had a box of rice and a bottle of water there. Naturally, it was not uncommon to have overheard some gossip.
Detective Bai was just transferred from the National Central Bureau of the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO) to serve as the Captain of the Criminal Investigation Unit in the Hongjiang District of Jin City, which could be considered a demotion.
That meant he was there to temporary serve in a lower level unit for a period of time and would get a promotion when he went back to the Central Bureau.
For such a person, although she would not know if he was competent in his job, she did know that his background was not something she could be up against.
“You don’t like cats?”
His question out of the blue made Xiang Wan jumped. “Eh?”
“Why did you think of cat abuse?”
He explained his question with a serious face, yet somehow, there was a cold feeling of craftiness. Xiang Wan had the feeling that she was back at the cramped interrogation room.
She clasped her hands nervously, turned her head, and looked at her own reflection on the glass window. “When I wrote the first version of my plot outline, cat abuse happened to be on breaking news…”
“Ha!” Bai Muchuan sneered, “What a coincidence!”
Xiang Wan could hear the obvious doubt in his tone, and her cheeks started to burn a little.
Writing a character whose background was similar to that of the deceased Zhao Jiahang, followed by the plot of cat abuse which she explained as something she saw on breaking news, it was no wonder she was treated as a suspect.
“You don’t understand how authors work. Continuous, daily updates of chapters are very draining to the mind. Sometimes, I feel like my brain is totally fried…”
“We’re reaching soon!” Bai Muchuan was obviously not interested in her profession. “Which trash bin?”
“Ah?” She could not react in time.
“Which trash bin did you throw the cats in?”
“…” Is this guy laying a trap for her?
“I didn’t throw the cats,” gasped Xiang Wan. “I only wrote a plot outline which I’ve abandoned. It was just something casual I wrote that could not be published. In short, I did not specify the exact trash bin where the cats got disposed of.”
Bai Muchuan turned to take a look at her. The car stopped, parked not too far away from the trash bins outside Zhao’s villa.
Xiang Wan watched as Bai Muchuan alighted from the car. His back view seemed to merge with the night. A sudden chill seemed to spread from her toes while she was still inside the car.
“Wait for me!” She opened the door in a haste to follow him.
The late night sky was pitch dark.
It was now late at night, and the whole sky was pitching black.
The area around the villa was very quiet. There was a strange foul odor in the air, seemingly coming from the trash bins.
Before Xiang Wan was able to walk up to Bai Muchuan, she was taken aback when a cat bolted out from behind the trash bins.
Lurking behind the trash bin in the night, the stray cat was like the devil’s advocate——totally frightening.
Xiang Wan felt her heart shrunk. She held her breath as she stared at the black trash bin.
A while later, Bai Muchuan calmly straightened himself and removed his gloves. Xiang Wan felt her spine frozen by the sharp glint in his eyes as he turned around.
“The trash bin has burnt marks. Cat carcass, two.”
Although there was a slight deviation of two dead cats instead of three, but what happened totally matched the initial version of the plot outline she wrote.
With the overlapping of multiple plots, this couldn’t be a simple coincidence anymore!
Bai Muchuan called up the forensics team to send men down to gather evidence.
Xiang Wan stood in a daze for a long time.
“That plot outline, who did you send it to?” Bai Muchuan quietly walked two steps toward her, his tall shadow blocking her now pallid face.
As though shrouded in a layer of impermeable shadow, Xiang Wan’s mind went blank and she sounded out of breath as she spoke.
“I remember…I remember now!”
With his feet stepping on her shadow under the moonlight, Bai Muchuan fixed his gaze on her eyes.
The scene was cold in an unusual way. Xiang Wan’s eyes looked terrified. Fear sprouted from her and gripped her heart tightly.
“That woman, the woman at the alley…”